A Yukon Supreme Court jury found a man charged with sexual assault for events in 2018 not guilty on Friday Sept. 2. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News files)

A Yukon Supreme Court jury found a man charged with sexual assault for events in 2018 not guilty on Friday Sept. 2. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News files)

Yukon Supreme Court jury finds man accused of sexually assaulting teen not guilty

Mistaken belief in age defence succeeds following two-week trial. Crown will consider appeal.

The following story contains details which some readers may find distressing. Rapid access counselling is available in the Yukon at 867-456-3838. The Yukon government line to request help with alcohol and drug addiction is 867-456-3838 or toll free in Yukon 1-866-456-3838.

The man who faced trial for alleged sexual assault of a girl under 16-years-old in a small Yukon community was found not guilty by a jury in the Yukon Supreme Court.

The not-guilty verdict for 34-year-old Jared Alexander Marcus Hadvick came in on Sept. 2, following a 10-day trial and hours of deliberation among the 12-member jury.

Hadvick was accused of having sexual contact with the teen, whose identity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban, after they met in a bar in Faro in the fall of 2018. After leaving the bar the two entered a home under renovation where the court heard the girl was found still intoxicated and wrapped only in a towel the next morning.

Along with sexual assault, Hadvick faced charges of sexual touching and break and enter with intent to commit an offence. The not-guilty verdict applied to all charges.

The trial, presided over by Justice David Gates began with jury selection on Aug. 22. Evidence was presented through the following days and the court heard final arguments from Hadvick’s lawyer, Meghan Forhan, as well as from Melissa Mckay, who represented the Crown alongside co-counsel Noel Sinclair on Aug. 31.

The crown lawyers maintained that based on testimony from the teen girl’s mother and from a family friend, Hadvick was informed of the girl’s age at an earlier gathering. They added that even if the jury had doubts about the mother’s testimony, Hadvick should still be found guilty because he was “wilfully blind” to the risks of engaging in sexual activity with the girl and was reckless in doing so.

Their final submission to the jury describes the girl’s “obviously juvenile” appearance and says Hadvick chose to ignore it and also failed to ask her age prior to sexual activity.

Making a final appeal to the jury for the defence, Forhan asserted that Hadvick, who had already testified on his own behalf, was unaware of the girl’s age until a week after the events at the centre of the trial and believed she was 19. The defence’s written theory on the case refers to the fact that the teenage girl was being served in the bar, leading Hadvick to assume she was 19-years-old. Defence’s case also rested on Hadvick’s assessment of the girl’s age based on her appearance and actions and their topics of conversation that included her plans to seek a job at a mine.

Gates instructed the jury on the essential elements that the Crown had to prove for Hadvick to be found guilty of each of the three charges.

During his instructions, Gates noted that Hadvick admitted he kissed the teenage girl and that she performed oral sex on him while still on the premises at the bar in Faro. He added that there was evidence that might suggest to them that further sexual contact took place at the vacant house that they entered through an unlocked door.

Given what had been admitted, either on the stand or in an agreed statement of facts filed with the court, the jury’s decision came down to whether Hadvick knew the girl was younger than 16 or if he failed to take all reasonable steps to ascertain her age. Gates told the jury that the criminal code is clear that a complainant under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to sexual activity with a person more than five years older than them. They were also instructed that mistaken assessment of age in a case like this is not a defence, if the accused did not take all reasonable steps to ascertain the complainant’s age.

The Crown had to prove that Hadvick knew the girl was younger than 16, or that he was wilfully blind or reckless regarding her age. The Crown could also prove that he didn’t take all reasonable steps to determine her age, as the criminal code requires him to do.

Throughout his instructions to the jury, Gates reminded them that it was up to the Crown to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt if they were to find Hadvick guilty.

Following the conclusion of the judge’s instructions on the afternoon of Sept. 1, two jurors were removed at random leaving the other 12 to deliberate well into the evening. The court reconvened to hear their not-guilty verdict early in the afternoon the following day.

“There were a number of factors at play in this case that resulted in an unfortunate situation all around. The complainant should never have been allowed into the bar that night to drink and mingle with the patrons and the licensed establishment which allowed her to do so breached its duty of care,” Forhan wrote in an email to the News after her client was found not guilty.

“Mr. Hadvick has maintained his innocence since the start of these proceedings based on a mistaken belief in age defence. We are thankful to the members of the jury who carefully considered all of the evidence over the course of the two week trial. We believe justice has ultimately prevailed with Mr. Hadvick’s acquittal and we are hopeful that all parties can now move forward and heal.”

Crown co-counsel Noel Sinclair told the News the Crown has 30 days to launch an appeal.

“Crown counsel is reviewing the verdict and the trial process and considering the possibility of appeal proceedings,” Sinclair said.

Contact Jim Elliot at jim.elliot@yukon-news.com

Yukon courts